..................ETHCOMM FAT CATS WALKING ALL OVER CITIZENS
The "Nevada Reporter" Filed this Damning Report on the Rotten Evil Ethics Commision WHITEWASHERS
DEFINITIONS
Is ethics just a word in the dictionary?
Is justice merely a concept we pay lip service to?
Have we become so blasé that we permit our elected officials to lie and cheat w/ no fear of the consequences?
A case in point is the Attorney General whose arrogance has led her to divert resources intended for the State Ethics Commission to the State Labor Commissioner. As far back as 1993, the legislature granted the State Ethics Commission a full time legal counsel. But, the AG’s disdain for adhering to the rules enabled her to shift that position to another agency w/out legislative authority or approval.
Could this lack of full time legal counsel have led to some of the questionable actions by the Commission?
Yet, in 1999, both she and Mary Boetsch, former chair of the Commission, felt obligated to appear before various legislative committees seeking funding for a full time legal counsel even though both women were cognizant that such a position already existed. Could we consider their testimony to be perjury by omission? Especially since both women are licensed, practicing attorneys.
This leads us to ask what other facts have been distorted by the AG for the advancement and benefit of her political aspirations?
We must also ask why the Attorney General and her staff felt obligated to assume the administrative oversight of the State Ethics Commission during the Summer/Fall of 1999. Aren’t such actions contrary to the AG’s statutorily defined duties? Shouldn’t her office be providing legal advice to its clients, not secretarial services?
And, if the AG’s Office wanted to manage another state agency, shouldn’t there be a cooperative agreement in place between the two agencies?
The oversight included, but was not limited to, approval of all invoices, selection of computer equipment and software, processing pay for the members of the commission and the hiring of Commission staff.
Was this oversight so important to the AG’s staff that they overlooked their other duties? How could an AG employee work two jobs for two agencies in 8 hours? Wouldn’t one position suffer? Or does the AG’s Office have such an abundance of employees that it can loan them out to other agencies?
Aren’t such actions contrary to the AG’s statutorily defined duties?
EGOS
Egos are fragile objects which bloom with the least bit of encouragement. This is not always a good thing.
Take the case of Louis Ling, deputy attorney general. Under the care and guidance of the State Ethics Commission, his ego grew. It grew to such a magnitude that the quality of legal advice he provided the Commission diminished in direct proportion to the size of his ego.
Why else would he forgot to disclose a potential conflict of interest, not once but 6 times? His live in girlfriend, Carolyn Cramer, is a lawyer employed by the Reno City Attorney’s Office. Yet whenever that agency appeared before the Commission, Mr. Ling ‘forgot’ to disclose his relationship w/ Ms. Cramer. Doesn’t the State Bar have regulations outlining when such disclosure is required? As a licensed attorney, isn’t Mr. Ling aware of the need to disclose?
In September of 1998, Mr. Ling cancelled a Commission ordered investigation regarding Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin. The cancellation was made at the request of Michael Halley, an employee of the Reno City Attorney’s Office and a co-worker of Ms. Cramer’s.
Why Mr. Ling neglected to share that information with the involved parties or the Commission until April of 1999 is a question that begs an answer. Ask former Reno City Councilman Judy Pruitt Herman for her take on that issue.
Do we equate the word of an attorney with the Word of God? Is that why Mr. Ling was allowed to circumvent the statutory process for dismissing opinion requests and turn down such requests he felt were a waste of time? Is this why he was allowed to act as an unofficial member of the Commission?
Is this why Mr. Ling felt he could release the Commission’s opinions to the press BEFORE he released them to the concerned parties? Ask Clark County Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates how that practice affected her.
CONFLICT OF INTERESTS – PART I
Can you say conflict of interest?
In September of 1999, Daveed Schwartz, a former employee of the Attorney General’s Office filed ethics charges against Tim Hay, employee of the Attorney General’s Office Also named in the charges was Senator Randolph Townsend..
The matter was ultimately declined by Kenneth Rohrs, former executive director of the State Ethics Commission. Mr. Rohrs declined jurisdiction AFTER announcing on the record that he had purchased a Lexus 4x4 from Senator Townsend’s dealership.
If Mr. Rohrs wanted/needed a Lexus so badly, shouldn’t he have purchased it from another dealer??? For all practical purposes, he was in a position of authority over the senator. A position which might have made Senator Townsend feel pressured to make Mr. Rohrs a ‘good deal.’
If Mr. Rohrs had gone to Sacramento or Las Vegas to buy his Lexus, he could have avoided both embarrassing Senator Townsend w/ his revelation and avoided the appearance of impropriety..
Did Mr. Rohrs use his position in government to benefit himself or another?
CONFLICT OF INTERESTS – PART II
Again, can you say conflict of interest?
The Advantage Group is a private investigative firm under contract to the State Ethics Commission. At the time, the Advantage Group was awarded the contract, it was also working for the private law firm of Mary Boetsch, former chair of the State Ethics Commission.
For services provided, a fee of $65@ hour is charged, no matter what the assignment. Yet these folks just can’t seem to get their act together. Why else would they place subpoenas in US mailboxes? And consider them served? Why else would their figures relating to former Sparks Mayor Bruce Breslow’s cell phone usage be incorrect?
And, why, does the Advantage Group’s favorite number appear to be 10,000 as in $10,000 per investigation? That is the average fee charged to the Commission by the Advantage Group.
Funny thing is, the contract between the State Ethics Commission and the Advantage Group never went out to bid. Is this just a coincidence or was somebody helping out a friend? Or was the Commission once again just relying upon the sound legal advice of Mr. Ling?
The Advantage Group also works for the Judicial Discipline Commission, where Ms. Boetsch is a special prosecutor. Talk about coincidences!
TENNIS ANYONE?
Mary Boetsch, former chair of the State Ethics Commission, pulled a fast one on both Sig Rogich and Andre Agassi. And, the sad thing is, they probably don’t even realize she potentially cost them $30 million plus.
In the Fall of 1998, the Clark County Commission was set to award a contract for a recreational complex. Sig Rogich, Mahlon Brown/Andre Agassi & Billy Waters were all vying for this contract, a very lucrative contract.
Two of the Clark County Commissioners (Woodbury & Kincaid) requested opinions from the State Ethics Commission asking if they could participate in the matter due to their social relationships w/ Mr. Rogich and/or Mr. Agassi.
Ms. Boetsch issued informal opinions. In doing so, she bypassed the statutory prescribed process for issuing an opinion. She did so because time was of the essence and there was not time to follow the process. Or so she said.
While she stated that hers was an informal opinion, the letters went out on commission stationary, which she signed as the chair. Who can blame the county commissioners for taking her word as gospel? Remember Terminal D???
And, why was the matter not placed on a commission agenda for discussion by that body? Why were Ms. Boetsch’s actions never ratified by the Commission? Where was Mr. Ling? Why didn’t he inform Ms. Boetsch of the statutes?
Due to Ms. Boetsch’s letters, the contract was awarded to Billy Waters, now under indictment for money laundering. The estimate profit of the contract is expected to exceed $30 million.
The statutory process wasn’t followed. Does that mean Clark County will have to re-let the contract? Can Andre or Sig hold the state responsible for the lost profits?
Why do we have laws on the books if nobody follows them?
HERE SHE COMES, MISS AMERICA
Hey Good Lookin’!
Have we as a society become so superficial that we’re willing to trade skill, ability and proficiency for good looks?
Would we rather get second rate service from one of the beautiful people than first rate service from somebody w/ average looks?
Since when did long blonde hair and white teeth become a substitute for competence?
The answer is six years, give or take.
At least in the Department of Administration, since that’s how long Lee-Ann Easton has been working there. Ms. Easton was originally hired by State Personnel as an administrative assistant. Take a husband’s career building tips, add Miss Clairol and you’ve got yourself a personnel officer. Or at least Perry Comeaux does.
It’s conceivable that Ms. Easton will never become a member of MENSA. However, she makes up for it w/ a sweet personality and sound advice. On numerous occasions, she has told employees in trouble to ‘Get an attorney, I can’t help." She also forgets little things, like having departing employees sign termination paperwork or conduct exit interviews. What happens then? Are those employees still on the payroll???
Perhaps, she should ask Jim Spencer, the deputy AG assigned to provide her w/ advice on personnel matters.
Of course, it’s not her fault. The lunches with the department heads take time as does admiring the flowers and awards she receives from upper management.
MONEY FOR NOTHIN’– PART I
Why is it our society believes that money will cure all evils? Right all wrongs? The government especially believes this to be true.
Look at the State Ethics Commission. For years, the legislature has been throwing money at that board in an effort to make it efficient. Too bad it hasn’t worked. Why? Because there’s no oversight!
More money, more employees are not going to make that agency productive and effective!!! Nothing will until the legislature gets over its fear of the Commission and makes it tow the line. Just like other state agencies.
The processing time of requests received by the Commission is outrageous. There are some cases dating back to 1992 which still haven’t been resolved. Are other agencies allowed such latitude? Imagine what would happen if, oh, say, the Secretary of State’s Office took 9 years to process paperwork. Nevada would not be the Delaware of the West.
Perhaps the legislature should consider hiring a babysitter for the Commission. One who makes sure that the work is done and that money is not wasted. What would be wrong w/ that? Nothing!
THE TRUTH HURTS
Since when did it become acceptable for government employees to lie? Or in the words of Al Gore "mis-state"? Lie not only to the public, but to other government officials as well.
Ask Robert Rose, who was concerned about the Clark County Building Department and some of its practices. He filed a request with the State Ethics Commission in the fall of 1999 asking for advice.
Which was given. Only problem was, the advice differed from advice that board had previously given. Advice given to a different individual, but based on circumstances almost identical to those presented by Mr. Rose.
In 1996, the Commission found Mr. Jim Sohns, a DMV employee, guilty of violating the Code of Ethics. Funny thing is, Mr. Sohns has never received his written opinion. It’s still pending. Mr. Ling was too busy to follow the Commission’s instructions and write the opinion. Probably had other things do to.
However, Mr. Rohrs, former executive director of the Commission, told Mr. Rose otherwise. It would appear that Mr. Rohrs never bothered to check the file or ask the Commission’s former employees to verify the facts.
Did Mr. Rohrs not have access to those individuals? Did he not have access to the Commission’s records? Or did he just have one of those days and couldn’t be bothered to track down the truth?
Then go ask Mr. George Toto of Incline Village for his take on the State Ethics Commission. Mr. Toto had filed a request w/ the Commission. A request which the Commission found to be frivolous. Based on that, it was decided to fine Mr. Toto.
Only thing is, Mr. Toto never received notice of the hearing. The hearing where the Commission would decide how much to fine Mr. Toto.
Mr. Rob Bony and AG researcher Lori Meredith assured the Commission that Mr. Toto had been given notice. The proper, legal notice.
Too bad he hadn’t. Ms. Meredith’s letters went astray to either the wrong P.O box or the wrong city. A fact both Mr. Bony & Ms. Meredith were aware of, but neglected to mention..
Yet, they felt compelled to tell the Commission that letters had gone to the correct address, and, apparently, Mr. Toto was ignoring those letters.
Was it acceptable for these AG employees to lie to a state agency? After all, who would believe the word of a nobody over that of two of Frankie Sue’s finest??
In the Summer of 2000, Mr. Toto had not received an opinion from the Commission; a document which would fine him. Could it be that it was not processed because Mr. Bony and Ms. Meredith were fully aware that they had misled the Commission by providing false information?
Ask Mr. Toto for his thoughts on the matter.
MONEY FOR NOTHIN’– PART II
Hey! Wouldn’t you like to double your paycheck?? Former Commissioner Helen Chisolm figured out just how to do that!
How? Claim you weren’t paid & have new pay checks issued. That’s just what she did in December of 1993. She claimed she hadn’t been paid in four months (she let four months go by w/out a peep?) She then demanded and received four months’ worth of paychecks.
This little scheme worked so well, she tried it again the following December. Once again she claimed she had not been paid for four months.
Only this time red flags were raised and an investigation ensued. An investigation which revealed that the endorsing signature on the checks very closely resembled Ms. Chisolm’s. The bank surveillance tapes showed a woman who might have been Ms. Chisolm’s double cashing the checks. However, the tapes were fuzzy and an exact ID was not possible.
Thus, new checks were once again issued after making Ms. Chisolm sign an affidavit stating she had not received her money.
After Round Two of the great check rip-off, Ms. Chisolm’s checks were sent to her via certified mail and she was not able to try it for a third time...
Just imagine if you or I had tried such a scheme. We’d be put in such a dark corner cell in the Nevada State Prison System that they’d have to pump sunlight to us.
TIME WILL TELL
Got a minute?
How about 4 or 5? Or in the case of the State Ethics Commission, 3 years’ worth of UNAPPROVED minutes!!! From the Fall of 1997 through the Summer of 1999, the State Ethics Commission did not approve ANY minutes. A practice which appears to be continuing. Check out the Commission’s agenda for its February 15/16, 2001 meeting. Notice anything? Yes! No mention is made anywhere on that document regarding the approval of Commission minutes!
A partial list of those minutes which have not been approved by the Commission are:
The Terminal D Matter. (Are you listening Lt. Gov Hunt???)
The Shaughn Daily/Shari Compton Smith et al matter.
The John Gonzales matter
The Incline Village General Improvement District & George Toto.
Sam Dehne & his $5K fine.
Richard Stone & his $1,500 fine.
Dr. Louis Overstreet & his fine.
The collection of monies owed the Commission & subsequent reduction or waiver of fines. (How could the state afford for the Commission to waive an estimated $2 million in fines???)
The Palomino Valley General Improvement District
Any personnel related issue.
Any matter involving the Campaign Practices Act. (Senator Washington, Assemblyman Beers, are you guys listening???)
And, the list goes on and on...
Nevada’s Open Meeting Law mandates that all minutes and/or transcripts of all government agency meetings must be approved within 30 days of the meeting dates (page 59 of the Open Meeting Law Manual).
Support for this law is provided by Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised. Minutes are the official record of the Commission’s meetings and according to Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised should be approved at the next meeting after the meeting for which the minutes were taken. The minutes cannot assume their place as the Commission’s ‘official record’ until they have been approved by the Commission.
So, what gives? Why has this body been allowed to ignore the Open Meeting Law? According to Mr. Ling, the approval of minutes ‘wasn’t important." Despite repeated reminders, Mr. Ling refused to guide the Commission (his client) through the simple process of minute approval.
Yeah. But, but doesn’t that leave the state wide open and completely liable. Especially if somebody decides to contest a decision made by the Commission simply because the minutes were never approved???
Would the matter be remanded and have to be re-heard? Would the old Commission members be re-instated or would the current Commission members re-hear the matter?
And why weren’t the minutes approved? Particularly considering the massive re-org the Commission underwent since the last legislative session. Shouldn’t the executive director ensure that the Commission meet all state imposed deadlines???
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